Genghis Khan and his troops may have unwittingly used more than just brute military force to conquer entire nations and to establish the infamous Mongolian empire. A report in the October issue of Genome Research suggests that Genghis Khans invasions spanning the continent of Asia during the 13th century may have been a primary vehicle for the dissemination of one of the worlds most deadly diseases: tuberculosis.
In this study, a team of scientists led by Dr. Igor Mokrousov from St. Petersburgs Pasteur Institute demonstrated that the evolutionary history of the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB) has been shaped by human migration patterns.
The researchers examined the genetic signatures of over 300 strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, rod-shaped bacteria that, when airborne, infect the pulmonary systems of vulnerable individuals and give rise to clinical TB. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that TB kills 5,000 people worldwide every day, or approximately 2 million people each year. The pathogen is rapidly spreading and evolving multi-drug resistant strains in susceptible regions such as Africa. Interestingly, a strong gender bias in TB infection is reported globally each year; a 70% excess of male TB cases is typical.
Maria A. Smit | EurekAlert!
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